15 Health Benefits of Kelp
Kelp, or seaweed, as it is commonly known in the West, is a form of large algae that grows in ocean forests. Also known as sea vegetables, kelp has been part of the human diet for more than 10,000 years. It is consumed in China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Scotland, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, Ireland, the Pacific islands, and throughout South America. Kelp is usually classified by color and is commonly found in the Green, Red, and Brown varieties.
Health Benefits of Kelp
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As a food, kelp is packed with nutrition and a broad range of minerals, due to their ability to absorb them from the surrounding water. Many recent studies have found kelp to be promising as an anti-viral and anti-cancer agent. Kelp is a proven and promising food for so many aspects of human health and nutrition. Below are fifteen amazing health benefits of eating kelp.
1. An Excellent Source of Iodine – Just a quarter cup of kelp contains nearly three times the recommended daily value of iodine. Iodine is important for the functioning of the thyroid gland, the immune system, and for hormone regulation in women. It also helps prevent the absorption of certain forms of radiation.
2. High in Iron – Kelp is not only high in the mineral iron, but it also contains vitamin C, which helps make iron more available to the body. Having these two in one food makes kelp a nutritionally efficient food.
3. Contains Rare Antioxidants – Not only is kelp a good source of antioxidants, but it also contains certain types of antioxidants not commonly found in other foods. These include several alkaloids, the vitamins C and E, and the minerals zinc and manganese. Antioxidants have been shown to prevent cardiovascular problems.
4. Anti-Inflammatory Properties – Kelp is packed with carbohydrates, including a complex carbohydrate called fucoidan. Multiple studies have shown these to be effective anti-inflammatories.
5. Very Low in Calories – Kelp contains only eight calories per quarter cup. This makes it a great food as it is packed with nutrition without busting your diet.
6. A Very Good Source of Folate – Folate, also known as Vitamin B9, which is vital for growth and the production of red blood cells.
7. Good source of Magnesium – Magnesium is important to all living cells. It is used to in the body to create many enzymes it needs to function. A quarter cup contains six percent of the daily value.
8. Good Source of vitamin K – Vitamin K is important for bone health and for proper blood clotting. This makes kelp a good anticoagulant and anti-thrombotic agent.
9. Important for Thyroid Health – The iodine in kelp is valuable for normal functioning of the thyroid gland. Iodine helps regulate hormones in the thyroid.
10. Lowers Cholesterol – Studies have shown that kelp helps lower both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. This leads to better cardiovascular health.
11. Estrogen-Related Cancer – Japanese women have lower rates of estrogen related cancers. This was thought to be due to their high kelp diets. A study at UC Berkeley confirmed this and showed that kelp consumption over decades reduce estrogen secretion, resulting in lower incidences of cancers related to excess estrogen. This is thought to be caused by the cholesterol reducing properties of kelp, as cholesterol is a building block of estrogen.
12. Anti-Viral Research – One study has shown that kelp is a promising anti-viral agent. The sulfated polysaccharides commonly found in kelp were effective at combating human cells infected with the herpes virus.
13. Cancer Prevention – Studies have shown that the fucoidan found in kelp has the potential to kill off cancer cells. More research is pending on this exciting development.
14. Endometriosis Pain Treatment – A single study found that treating women with 700 mg of kelp daily was effective at reducing their pain.
15. Contains Vanadium – Kelp contains vanadium, which is touted as a treatment for diabetes. Vanadium has been suggested to increase cell sensitivity to insulin, which leads to decreased glucose production. This is thought to lead to greater blood sugar control. The research on this is inconclusive at this time, so further study is needed.
It is clear from the above that kelp is a very important food for human nutrition and health. While many of these benefits have yet to be proven scientifically, the studies have only just begun. What is clear is that kelp is a low calorie food with a wide array of vitamins and minerals that humans have been eating for thousands of years. Kelp is gaining popularity in the West, with help of studies that demonstrate its many benefits. Kelp is easy to add to your diet. You can use it the same way you use lettuce, cook with it, or take it as a supplement in pill form. However you ingest this amazing food, know that you are benefiting your health.